Walk into a spa, a yoga studio, or even your local beauty salon, and you’ll often feel a wave of calm wash over you, making your eyelids feel instantly heavier. But your own bedroom? Not so much.
We’re a nation of terrible sleepers, with more than half of UK adults sleeping for six hours or less each night. Our bedrooms may be not be entirely to blame, but they certainly aren’t helping.
To change that, we’ve enlisted the help of a sleep consultant and an interior designer to find out how to create the perfect zen den at home. You’ll be nodding off before you know it.
Remove electronic devices from the bedroom
Scrolling through Instagram, replying to Whatsapp messages or watching one last episode on Netflix before bed could be messing with your sleep, according to sleep consultant Maryanne Taylor, founder of The Sleep Works. She recommends removing all electronic items from your bedroom to avoid temptation.
“Electronics in all forms can trick the brain into thinking it needs to stay awake rather than go to sleep,” she tells HuffPost UK. “All screens emit a blue light which reduces the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls our sleep/wake cycle, known as circadian rhythm. The less melatonin we produce, the harder it is to fall asleep and maintain sleep throughout the night.”
Taylor recommends a minimum of 30 minutes screen-free time before going to bed and keeping devices in another room. You can also reduce the blue light on many smartphones now by switching on night mode.
“Devices can wake you up from sounds of texts, emails, or reminders,” she says. “If you are using the phone as a clock next to your bed, even a brief check of the time may be enough to waken you fully from a drowsy state.”
Of course, you’ll need to invest in an alarm clock if you’re ditching your phone. HuffPost’s roundup of wake-up lights should help.
Optimise your environment for sleep
One thing that’s guaranteed to keep you awake at night is an uncomfortable bed. If splashing out on a new mattress is out of the question right now, experimenting with mattress toppers or new pillows could help. Your back and neck should feel supported during sleep, says Taylor.
She also recommends keeping the bedroom on the cool side and using a warm duvet to keep warm, rather than central heating. “Try to stick to 100% cotton bedding sheets as this will allow your body to maintain body temperature,” she adds.
In addition, playing white noise in your bedroom may help distract from the sounds of a busy road or noisy housemates, says Taylor. Finally, set aside some time to declutter and tidy your bedroom. Trust us, it’ll be worth it.
Go to town with relaxing interiors
Now the basics have been covered, it’s time to have some fun. Painting your bedroom a relaxing colour could help you get in the mood to snooze, says Aurore Martial, founder of interior design company Domus Venus.
“I love blue for a bedroom, it really is a soothing colour. I wouldn’t go for bright colours such a yellow, red or vivid tones – it would remove the calming mood you’re after,” she says.
“I also love a plaster effect in bedrooms, it adds a lot of warmth and a nice texture to the walls. You can also pick a plain textured wallpaper with a woven silky finish to get a cosier luxury mood.”
No sleep pad is complete without cosy soft furnishings, including throws, rugs and cushions, Martial adds. If you’re looking for inspiration, HuffPost UK’s tried and tested guide on the snuggliest throws this winter could help.
Finally, both Taylor and Martial recommend investing in blackout blinds to block out light, which can impact the production of sleep-boosting melatonin. If blinds aren’t for you, Martial says getting pleated curtains, instead of ones with eyelets, can help, as the latter tend to let in more light.